I’ll need a name for my next machine

Update 2015-07-29: It has arrived! Naming it was tough; although there were good suggestions that friends made. I considered calling it “theven” given the previous one was called “sith”, but I’m going to go with “Gillie”. I like the ring of it principally, but there are other meanings. It’s the name of a character in GoT, and in French it means “tickle”, which was in the list I considered.

“Gailuron”, “Melina”, “Abraxas”, “Eloah”, “Precious”, “Phoenix”, “Sith”. I have not followed any particular convention in naming my computers, thus far. Here are the stories.

Gailuron” (namely “cheerful chap”) was a sturdy Sun workstation which I had not named myself. It was there when I was sworn into office at W3C in 1999.

Melina” was a sturdier desktop computer, I don’t recall which make. I named it after a most excellent Greek singer, Melina Mercouri. At the time, I was dating a guy who was half-greek, I danced the sirtaki (or rather the hasapiko -the butcher’s dance-, which inspired the sirtaki), cooked greek food, vacationed in Crete every summer, listened to orthodox liturgical music and other Greek music, particularly Melina Mercouri. You know, Zorba? She sang to the famous Zorba movie music.

Abraxas” was a heavy Dell Latitude laptop which the previous owner had named. I looked up “Abraxas”, and it’s related to ancient religions. If you look it up, you’ll find that Abraxas is both an Egyptian god and a demon, and you’ll see that he has legs like pretzels, carries a whip and a shield, and has the head of a chicken. I can’t fathom why anyone would name their machine like this.

Eloah” was a Dell OptiPlex, a desktop computer that I named after Éléa, the main character of a wonderful novel by René Barjavel, The Ice People (“La Nuit Des Temps”). I don’t recall how I went from Éléa to Eloah, which is a Hebrew word for God.
In this photo, it’s hidden under the humongous monitor and behind a screen of paper in the office also known for its “1-million dollar decoration” (that would warrant a post of its own):

At my desk, 2003

Precious“, ah, The Precious… My first Macintosh laptop, a 15-inch PowerBook G4. It took me so many months of relentless persuasion and negotiation before it was finally ordered for me, that it was only natural that it should be named the Precious. I loved it. I could sleep with it.
Incidentally, in this photo, it’s in bed with me:

Me and the Precious, 2005

Phoenix” -how could I forget Phoenix?- was the new Precious since on an unfortunate day in late 2006, Precious didn’t wake from sleep. Fortunately, I was in Boston, a short distance from the Cambridgeside Galleria Apple Store where I got a 15-inch MacBook Pro. It was entirely grey. And it was as pretty as the Precious. So I named it “Phoenix” after Jean Grey from the Marvel comics. Because it was grey and because it was sort of arising from the ashes of Precious.

Sith” is the computer I’m typing this on, a MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2009). I named it Sith because it had a dark keyboard. I hated it; it looked and sounded ugly. I had been able to get a glossy screen (versus glass), but there was no way to replace the loud black keyboard.

I can’t wait to replace the venerable Sith, and wonder what I’ll name its replacement, another MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015).

Things for which I am grateful

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it!
Happy regular day to the rest!

My laptop acted up last night and today and what a prank it was for it to assess the disk corrupt, claim it can’t be fixed, and declare that reformatting and restoring from backup were in order. Turned out the disk got repaired and I tweeted I’m grateful for it:

This is the short-term gratefulness and there are other things I am deeply grateful for: I am healthy and literate in a country where life is good, I have a family of good people, I have a son whom I love from the bottom of my unfathomable heart, I live with his sweet father, I have a job I live for and colleagues who are kind, talented, dedicated, funny that I admire them. This is a fraction of the things I am grateful for. Today I thought about them, and I’m thankful.

A couple tips, troubleshooting a bug in Opera menus

Before I forget and in case I need it later.
A bug in Opera 11.61 I submitted in February [DSK-357462] (that apparently others with similar configurations can not reproduce) still occurs in Opera 11.62. So I looked at other possible causes for that peculiar bug.

The bug is in any menu of Opera, any drop-down list and any right-click menu. When the menus appear, selecting through them is slow at best, and doesn’t apparently work at worse. I can click several times and sometimes forever on an item in the list, it’s as though the state doesn’t change, or takes a while to actually select. I click outside of it to make it disappear and it just stays there until I click either outside of the Opera window, or sometimes (not always) until I hover the mouse over it and then click outside of it, inside the Opera window.

I needed to find when I last performed software updates. Karl gave me this tip:

cat /Library/Receipts/InstallHistory.plist

This is much more accurate than my intuition to search in the console (there is entirely too much info there, and this would take much longer) or looking in the Applications folder and find a common date for “Date Modified”.

This allowed me to check that a few days prior to my noticing the bug, I had performed the “Mac OS X Update Combined” (10.7.3). This was later followed by a “Mac OS X 10.7.3 Supplemental Update”.

Then I needed to assess whether my usage of Opera could be a factor. I typically run it several days or weeks without quitting it. I operate with 1 or more windows and the number of tabs I keep open is around 90. Opera is also my Mail User Agent, has been for years and as such its mail database indexes more than 133K messages (I archived once in 2004, but then I became lazy).

I performed two tests.
The first on my other computer which has the same OS as my work laptop and the same Opera version (the processors are different but I don’t suppose the test is invalid). My opera session on that other computer has an empty mail database and I ran it with one tab. Menus were reactive as expected and selecting through them was smooth and gratifying. I opened several other tabs and I had the same positive experience.
I performed the second test on my work laptop and started a new Opera session with one tab and then a few. I was happy to experience smooth and reactive menu action. Happy and frustrated at the same time.

So maybe there is something in the early February Mac OS 10.7.3 update that impacts Opera to some extent. And if Opera couldn’t reproduce the bug to fix it in 11.62, it may be useful to give them extra info on that bug.

Another good tip, via Dean, was to run in the Terminal:

sample Opera

And perform any menu action for it to dump an “Analysis of sampling Opera (pid xxxxx) every 1 millisecond” in a text file. The blitz sampling, which lasted a fraction of time, analysed me right-clicking on a link in a Web page and clicking on “copy link address”, and wrote 21K lines, hardly any of them making sense to me. I sent it to Opera to accompany my February bug report.

Then I went back to my habitual session, bookmarked for good as many tabs as I could and tried with a 28-tab session. Same frustratingly slow menu actions. Oh well. I need them all (I need more of them in fact) to work, they’re my work flow. I hope this is fixed some day.

Opendirectoryd crashes

I was unlucky enough two months ago to start to experience loss of my (computer) identity, occasionally at wake from sleep. My computer terminal would show “I have no name!” in the prompt instead of my user name, would claim that I am 501, when it should say I’m koalie. Of course, ssh would not want me, telling me to go away as I don’t exist. So I rebooted a couple time and grumbled a lot.Vlad suggested something was wrong with LDAP and my colleague Thomas diagnosed that opendirectoryd was crashing. All true.

It happened again tonight and Vlad found a way to restart opendirectoryd (in Terminal.app):

sudo launchctl
stop com.apple.opendirectoryd

Which restarts opendirectoryd.

I’m none the wiser on what triggers the opendirectoryd crash at wake from sleep. But I’m glad this works when the crash happens.

Update: The above doesn’t always work. Actually, it may have worked just once. Since then, I’ve experienced silent opendirectoryd crash, and no sudo worked, neither some kill -9. Only a restart can fix it.